Taking lessons from the pandemic, companies have an opportunity to reset and reimagine their event programs to better align them to marketing outcomes, according to a new report by the CMO Council. Because of the extensive digital transformation across the meetings and events industry spurred by the pandemic, the NextGen events channel will span formats (e.g., virtual/webinar, in-person, hybrid) and types (e.g., conferences, trade shows, road shows, customer groups) and has the potential to drive broader and deeper customer engagement.
The new report, NextGen Events: Optimized for Outcomes, is based on a survey of 150 global marketing leaders and in-depth interviews with executives from Equifax, GE Healthcare, HCL Software and GfK. The research was developed in partnership with Cvent, a market-leading meetings, events and hospitality technology provider.
Key findings in the report include:
- Virtual events still matter: Virtual events continue to deliver tremendous reach and value, yet 64% of marketing leaders say their organizations are only moderately effective or not effective at executing virtual events
- In-person events remain the top choice to nurture relationships and drive conversions: 60% say restarting in-person/hybrid events is very important, even critical
- Event marketing has matured: 65% say learnings over the last two years will lead to a more holistic view of events that are better aligned to marketing outcomes
In order to capitalize on the NextGen event channel opportunity, CMOs will need to craft a clear and comprehensive strategy that matches each different event with the right goals, while working closely with event planning teams to deliver a more immersive, engaging attendee experience – whether online or in-person. This means learning how to deliver engaging virtual events, re-thinking traditional event planning, encouraging cross-team collaboration, and optimizing the MarTech stack to maximize event program impact.
“With so much uncertainty, it has become even more important for organizations to have a clear understanding of all the events happening in their portfolio in order to gain complete control and a clear picture of what’s happening now and what lies ahead,” said Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council. “Through better management and with a focus on testing and learning, CMOs can ensure NextGen events are tied to business outcomes: brand awareness, lead generation, retention and loyalty.”
“The results from this new report highlight the significant impact the pandemic has had not just on meetings and events, but also on the roles and relationships between planners and marketers,” said Cvent Chief Marketing Officer, Patrick Smith. “The digital transformation over the last two years has made events more measurable, enabling marketers to better understand the impact events have on their marketing efforts; and with the rise of virtual and hybrid events, the lines between event planning and digital marketing have blurred. This NextGen event channel means that marketing executives and planners need to work collaboratively, rather than in siloes, to better engage attendees. If they do this effectively, there is more potential to deliver greater event program impact and value across the organization.”